New art exhibit connects local athletes as ancient gods
NOLAN KOWAL, CONTRIBUTOR
At the top of the stairs at the highest level of the Winnipeg Art Gallery hangs a new collection; a series of black and white portraits, each one of a person striking a graceful pose.
This is the Modern Day Heroes exhibit, the WAG’s newest display. Four local athletes — Kimberly Moors, a swimmer with the University of Manitoba Bisons; Finn Higgins, a wrestler with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen; Sophia Lee, a principal dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; and Maurice Leggett, a safety for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers — are depicted as ancient Greek gods and goddesses.
“We were hoping to show a diversity of sports,” said WAG spokesperson Catherine Maksymiuk. “Many artists in ancient times used athletes as their models or muses. We tried to recapture this in 2016.”
The WAG’s current feature exhibit, Olympus, showcases a collection of Greco-Roman artifacts from the National Museums in Berlin. This art helped inspire photographer Ian McCausland to create Modern Day Heroes.
“We would look at the common movements of the athletes and say, ‘where do these movements mirror the concepts put forth by ancient artists?’” McCausland said. “They’re not literal representations, but more of an interpretation. We tried to stay true to the spirit of swimming, wrestling, football and dancing.”
While posing for the photos, Moores, 29, noticed a distinct difference between her natural swimming movements and the movements of Greek gods.
“In swimming you’re tense, because you want to go as fast as you can,” she said. “We were trying to soften the moves up to better resemble a Greek goddess statue or a Greed god athlete. They had to tell me to loosen up.”
The posing process was also different for Higgins, 20, who had never taken part in a photo shoot before.
“I was asked to perform wrestling techniques at full speed, and Ian would capture the action at just the right moment,” he said. “It turned out to be a really cool experience.”
All four athletes were asked to choose the god they most identify with. Higgins, an Oklahoma City native studying theatre and film, chose Dionysus, the god of theatre and festivals. Moores, who took a Greek mythology class in university, picked Hercules.
“A lot of people doubted Hercules and didn’t think he would accomplish the 12 tasks,” she said. “I was 26 years old when I went back to school to swim, and a lot of people didn’t think I would accomplish as much as I have.”
Both exhibits are on display until March 6.